Much attention has been focused on the kind of impact bring your own device (BYOD) policies are having on businesses. While that’s certainly a worthy point to focus on, another aspect that doesn’t receive as much attention is the impact certain business trends have on the BYOD movement in general. Of particular note is the growing reliance companies are having on contractors and other temporary employees. On the surface, BYOD seems like a great fit for the contractor lifestyle since it allows them to use their own devices from job to job, giving them greater control over how they get their work done. But using BYOD with employees that are only with the company for a small amount of time does introduce new complications that all businesses need to be prepared for.
Few concerns regarding BYOD are as widespread as security. Mobile app security remains a noticeable sticking point, and it grows more complicated as temporary workers start using their own devices to connect to a company’s network. The potential for malware and other malicious code to infiltrate a system is certainly a worry that can’t be dismissed. In many BYOD policies, mobile device management (MDM) systems are used to help IT departments manage devices and ensure they don’t contain harmful malware. However, MDM might not be the best solution when it comes to contractors since temporary employees may feel it is far too intrusive. Most experts agree that the preferred choice should be mobile application management (MAM) software instead. This gives companies direct control over specified applications and not the device itself, helping to prevent any spread of malware and other damaging code.
One of the main reasons businesses have been so welcoming of BYOD policies in the first place is the promise that they can help employees be more productive while cutting down on costs. This becomes a tricky undertaking when contractors are involved. The goal, as always, is to minimize expenses by decreasing the total amount of endpoint management needed to work with new devices on a regular basis. While there is no single approach to making this work effectively as far as contractors are concerned, there are a number of ideas put forth. One of the most popular is offering contractors a choice between allowing IT to manage the personal devices or using a company approved device. Not only can offering a choice cut down on overall expenses, but it addresses issues involving data privacy by avoiding pressuring a contractor into accepting certain policies they don’t agree with.
A significant impact contractors will have on BYOD policies will likely be the role cloud computing plays. This is an issue somewhat related to security since much of the work on the cloud would be done outside a company’s firewall. This is not necessarily seen as a bad thing; work in the cloud can lead to more productivity since contractors would be able to access all needed apps and data through their devices. The cloud essentially helps to connect all people within an organization, even those who are only there temporarily. Plus, cloud experts say that just because the cloud is outside the firewall doesn’t mean IT departments still can’t manage security issues in much the same way they normally would. Using the cloud also gives organizations added power over who has access to which systems.
In fact, maintaining control is a huge part of why companies have looked into BYOD policies when working with contractors. By having some control over temporary employees’ devices, businesses can determine what areas of the business they can have access to, changing up permissions whenever it is needed. Control also extends to when contractors leave the company. Revoking access can be a relatively easy process through BYOD, and wiping sensitive business information from a device is a good way to maintain the security of a company.
The issues stemming from contractors and BYOD will likely take more time to work out completely. There’s no denying BYOD can provide major benefits, particularly for temporary employees, but businesses will have to prepare for the potential complications that may arise. Problems, of course, shouldn’t dissuade organizations from embracing BYOD, but preparation is key to making it all work smoothly.